29th Annual Tour Phillip Island

1st September to 25th September 2007. Tour Director: Graham Sawyer

Day 1 - Thirlemere to Yass.

Day 2 - Yass to Corowa.

Day 3 - Sub events.

Day 4 - Corowa to Healsville.

Day 5 - Free day.

Day 6 - Free day.

Days 7 - Healsville to Cowes (Phillip Island).

Days 8 - Free day.

Days 9 - Cowes to Lakes Entrance.

Days 10 - Free day.

Days 11 - Lakes Entrance to Merimbula.

Days 12 - Merimbula to Bateman's Bay.

Days 13 - Bateman's Bay to Primbee. Presentation dinner, then make own way home in the morning.

Organised by Graham & Kerry email: g.sawyer@bigpond.com

Tour Report

September 1st - Day One

After some late adjustments the entrants comprised 17 vintage cars and 9 moderns.

The vintage cars were 1930 Chrysler Roadster (Graham and Kerry), 1930 Chrysler (Charlie and Evelyn), 1929 Dodge (Warren), 1929 Dodge Roadster (Jim and Margaret) 1928 Oldsmobile Roadster (Tony and Margaret), 1926 Bayliss Thomas (Ted and Pat), 1928 Sunbeam (Nigel and Janny plus Tony and Vicki), 1930 Chrysler (Frank and Veronica), 1930 Chrysler Coupe ( Rod and Therese), 1927 Willys Whippet (Joe and Roseanne), 1930 Ford A Roadster (Kim and Jan), 1924 Dodge (Phil and Pam), 1923 Dodge (Laurie and Monica), 1928 Chrysler (Ted and Beryl), 1926 Hupmobile (Stephen and Michelle),1929 Nash (Don and Betsy) and 1930 Chrysler (Keith and Robyn)

In moderns were Ted and Kuko, Chris and Mary, Brian and Ellen, Kav Reddan, Shawn and Juliana, Kevin and Sue, Ann Kinsella, John C, Ron and Shirley and Peter and Enika.

The official start was at Thirlmere Memorial Park at 10 am, implying an early start for everyone. It was a lovely day and those who made it to the start, albeit some after minor difficulties/domestics, enjoyed a very civilized morning tea with cream and jam scones supplied by Assistant Tour Director Kerry. After a final briefing the cars moved off for the 156 mile drive along mostly minor roads heading for Yass with a lunch stop at Goulburn. The weather was fine, crisp and clear.

Behind this idyllic scene Darwinian processes were already at work. Ten miles down the road the Page Hupmobile experienced a blown head gasket. The prognosis was not good. Nasty noises had been heard and bits of white metal detected. A trailer home seemed the best option and Steve and Michelle rejoined the rally later in a modern. Theories as to the cause of failure include detonation (following overly ambitious adjustment of compression ratio and spark timing) or, as John Cook suggested, using the side curtains, a thing that Roger never used to do!

Darwin struck again some twelve miles or so beyond Goulburn, where Ted and Beryl's Chrysler developed a short circuit and fire behind the dashboard. Breathing became difficult in all the fumes. Rescue efforts to restart the engine met with only partial success. Then Warren Wilson tried to tow the car with his Dodge, but the hills were too steep and tow truck number two had to be arranged. A day or so later Ted reappeared in a modern.

There were plenty of bonnets open and men in overalls when we reached the Sundowner Motel in Yass. Phil was diagnosing the first of what proved to be many ‘near death’ experiences that his Dodge was to suffer on the trip. Kim was rebuilding the starter motor of his Ford and under Jim’s Dodge someone was having a sense of humour failure! But it had been a great first day and we all enjoyed the Welcome Dinner.

September 2nd - Day 2

Fathers Day opened at 7.10 am when Phil's Dodge gave a fair imitation of a Harley Davidson roaring into life! Thus, even the most determined sleepers were ready for the early start to cover the 223 miles to Corowa via Cootamundra, for morning tea and swap meet, and Wagga Wagga for lunch.

The Joe's Whippet needed a push start to overcome the cold and Kim's Ford starter failed to respond to the efforts of the previous evening. For the rest of that day the car could be seen parked like Yertle the Turtle on top of a hill whenever we stopped.

The swap meet at Cootamundra was interesting but offered little to Vintage enthusiasts and, not surprisingly, there were no takers for a beautiful, red childes pedal car at $1000! Rod and Therese arrived a little late for the event. Their cover story (spin?) suggested they had not become lost, rather they had been looking for a cappuccino in Murrumbarah!

Again we had glorious weather and champagne vintage motoring along quiet roads taking us through brilliant green cropping and grazing country that contrasted with occasional large paddocks of bright yellow canola. We hardly saw any other vehicles and, apart from intermittent fuel problems in the Bayliss, there were few incidents until Jim's Dodge reached the motel, where it ran out of battery power. A new voltage regulator was found and fitted the next day.

September 3rd - Day 3

The glorious weather continued for our Events Day held at a sports field in Corowa. Tony and his team had arranged some tests that were as devilish and challenging as ever. We had a full field (Kim's Ford starter was back in action) and about 16 cars and members of the local branch of the Albury-Wagga Club joined us.

Suffice to say that few managed to run over and burst the balloons kept mobile by a light breeze. The broken handled broom made auto-polo very hard and there was a clammy penalty at the end. But it was the navigation test that put the biggest strains on driver-navigator relationships. Most cars failed miserably, including one with an Admiral and an experienced private pilot on board!

As far as is known there were neither red card offences nor adverse findings in tests for performance enhancing drugs, but it was not until the final dinner that we learned that the winners were Steve and Michelle driving the Sawyer Chrysler with Kav and Ann in the Neilson Chrysler the runners-up.

The afternoon program included a visit to All Saints Winery. The Bayliss had minor fuel hiccups but was trumped by the Whippet when it managed to run out of fuel in the aptly named Distillery Road!

Away from the drama, Kerry and Therese were researching a good spot for dinner. They walked over the bridge into Victoria and opened the door of a place that had been suggested to them. They were confronted by a phalanx of males at the bar, all of whom were staring at them. Swan-like on top, but peddling madly below, they announced they were looking for a place for dinner. ‘Where are you from’ they were asked. From NSW they replied ‘How many are you’? They replied ‘We’re about ten’. ‘What, all ladies’? ‘No, we’re with our husbands, we’re here in the vintage cars’. There was a very obvious drop in interest around the bar then one, bolder than the others, announced that he too had a vintage car. The girls asked what sort? On being told it was a Mini Moke they fled!

September 4th - Day 4

The route for the day took us 196 miles from Corowa to Healsville via Benalla for morning tea and Mansfield for lunch. Once again we were fortunate with the weather and enjoyed the scenery and the quiet but good roads that we covered. The country along the way looked fresh and green but in reality has been eaten down and badly needs follow-up rain.

Further to the north, Don and Betsy were driving their Nash to join the rally at Healsville. They were having a good run and had done about 300 kms when Darwin struck near Wangaratta. The Nash had blown a head gasket. So they limped home, transferred to their relatively modern Mercedes and joined us a day later.

Warren in his Dodge had had a confidence-sapping day with ignition and overheating problems. These were sorted that evening after a strong team effort by all the usual suspects. Earlier, Laurie's Dodge had been reported ‘blown up’ near the hotel. Fortunately this proved to be an exaggeration but, as it turned out, Darwinian processes were at work again.

About this time it became clear that some participants were recovering from a ‘flu-like virus and others were succumbing. Despite this there was plenty of high spirited fun at dinner that evening. The main movers and shakers included Enika, Evelyn, Juliana, and Veronica plus Kerry who actually persuaded Ted onto the dance floor! Choral support was provided by Shawn, Laurie and Tony.

September 5th - Day 5

The morning broke cold and frosty. This was a planned rest day and for one reason or another there were few takers for the restaurant breakfast that had been set up for a cast of thousands.

Most of us visited the Healsville Sanctuary. It was delightfully uncrowded at this time of year and a really good way to see Australian fauna close up, but in a very natural environment. Perhaps the star attraction was the display of free flying birds of prey. We saw a kite and an eagle swooping low over the spectators to take the food thrown by their keepers. But it was the falcon, stooping at over 300 km/hour that left the biggest impression.

In the evening we all enjoyed a fully catered BBQ. Our official photographer Veronica passed around an album recording most of the action for the last few days. There were many beauties and some great captions were suggested

September 6th - Day 6

The main attraction planned for the day was a ride on Puffing Billy. This was particularly special for Kevin and Sue who last made the trip some forty years ago. We were bussed from our motel to Belgrave where we had plenty of time to explore this quiet town before catching the train that would take us some 26 km for the return trip to Lakeside and back.

Our engine was a marvelous c1927- 30inch gauge 26-62 Garret. It was smooth enough, but the ride in the open carriages was less so as the train navigated the tight bends and grades. We passed slowly along the sides of steep valleys, through remnant old growth forests and over a magnificent timber trestle bridge. We also received plenty of cinders along the way!

Many volunteers operate the railway. Perhaps this is just as well because we counted a group of seven smartly uniformed men on one platform. Three had ‘Guard emblazoned on their cap band and four had ‘Head Guard.’ That seems a lot too many Chiefs!

Laurie's Dodge came to a stop that evening while returning from an inspection of antique shops not far from the motel. The distributor drive had seized and things looked bad. Somehow Tony produced a Dodge replacement from the boot of his Oldsmobile and the oldest car in the rally was back in business! Meanwhile the electrical seat positioning mechanism in Ted Kaufman’s Maserati had also seized. The defect, which could not possibly have occurred in a vintage machine, was cured by removing a cleaning cloth caught under the seat!

September 7th - Day 7

By this time our Rally Director Graham was on the sick list and Stephen had stepped in to conduct briefings etc and then to drive Graham's Chrysler.

Our route took us to Cowes 123 miles away, via Neerum South for morning tea and Warrigal for lunch. It was yet another perfect day as we drove through spectacular scenery through places with names that sound strange to those from NSW. Again the roads were excellent for vintage cars.

At Warragul the ladies were deserted for a two-hour shopping opportunity while the men went off in the moderns to see Ivan Saxton‘s collection of exotic cars. Your reporter missed this visit (and his wife the shopping…sob, sob) in order to get two passengers who were not well to the next overnight stop as soon as possible. It is understood the visit was a great success, especially the paddock bashing in a genuine Duesenberg!

Peter and Enika were Tail-End Charlie for this day. At one stage they stopped to assist Jim and Margaret with a flat tyre. All went well but Peter inadvertently left his expensive camera on the running board of the Dodge. It must have good suspension because the camera remained there for about 6km before falling onto the road and under the wheel of Peter’s Range Rover. Kav witnessed this and stopped to recover the remains. Then followed an examination and the slow realisation by Peter that this was not a similar camera but his very own! At least he was able to extract the shots that he had stored in it.

8th September - Day 8

The day was spent in the Cowes area. Breaking news that morning was about John C’s encounter with a wombat when returning to Cowes overnight. He didn’t see it until the very last moment and sadly the wombat had no chance. John’s Calais developed a leaking radiator and had damage to the air conditioner and bumper etc. Repairs were arranged in Cowes but John would have to wait until Tuesday to get his car back.

Most participants went on the organized visit to the Phillip Island Racetrack. It is sited in a natural basin so that there are excellent views over a large part of it. Over the years it has been developed into an ideal course for motorcycles and is also a good venue for cars other than Formula 1.

The track was in use by a local club and we were somewhat distracted from the briefing by a host of Alphas and lesser numbers of other marques (BMW, Toyota, Mazda, Lotus etc) doing their thing.

After inspecting the impressive control room facilities we visited the museum. It contains many surprises for motoring buffs. For example, who would have expected to see the winner of the first Australian Grand Prix and then to find it was an Austin Seven! But it was the old photos that really showed how primitive arrangements once were and how much the track has been improved over the years.

That evening we went to see seals and penguins in the Nobbies Beach area. The former were nowhere to be seen but after what seemed to be a very long and cold wait we did see quite a lot of Little Penguins stagger ashore. Once there they had to out-face a host of less than friendly Silver Gulls. Gradually they worked up enough confidence and then, ignoring the large crowd of humans on the boardwalk above them, they staggered up to their nests at a smart pace.

9th September - Day 9

Another bright clear day dawned for our 194 miles drive to Lakes Entrance via Mirboo North for morning tea and Maffra for lunch at the local club’s All British Day. Once again we were to pass through really good driving country over excellent but lightly used roads. The Victorians are lucky indeed to have so many good roads to choose from.

During pre flight checks Frank found a flat rear tyre in the Sultana Chrysler. Some even thought it might have finally given way due to the load to be carried for Our Lady of the Luggage, Veronica! In any event, it was soon fixed and later that day the Sultana team were able to provide roadside assistance and much needed water to Phil's overheating Dodge. Even the thermos water came into use!

The impressive All British Day at Maffra had already quite a few ring-ins so there was no problem in parking our mostly non -British cars in a prominent position, where they caused a lot of interest. We visited the large former dairy factory housing a very interesting car and motorcycle collection with lots of atmosphere and local colour. One would need at least a day there to do justice to the collection but of course our group had to press on in order to reach Lakes Entrance in good time. No major dramas along the way were reported.

That evening we booked in to the most splendid accommodation in the Esplanade Resort and Spa. It was amazingly good value and even the vehicles enjoyed undercover parking! Our Rally Director, who had more or less recovered by now, could score himself a perfect ten!

September 10th - Day 10

This was to be a day of relaxation with a lake cruise thrown in for those interested. For the first time, the sun was not shining and we even had light showers. There were no dramas with vintage cars to report but John C had again made headlines. This time he had managed to hit a fox while driving his rented car.

John’s incident report by SMS reads ‘as u know I am conducting a study into reasons 4 the decline in Victorias native and introduced fauna. Last night, 250 metres from gates of PP’s fauna reserve I ran over a fox. Regards David Attenborough’. The reply reads ‘Dear David we presume a hair and faecal sample taken. Please also get semen sample, regards David Suzuki’.

That afternoon Phil, Pam, Tony & Margaret plunged into the Esplanade pool. It is understood that following the local tsunami, a lot of a Great White Whale was observed!

Petrol Consumption - Best - tba Least - tba

Hard Luck - tba

Questions - Runner up - tba Winner - tba

Events - Runner up - Kav & Ann, Chrysler Winner - Stephen & Michelle, Chrysler

Overall - Runner up - tba Winner - tba

Report by Nigel B

Edited by SK for privacy considerations.